From left, Cariboo Regional District Area A Director Mary Sjostrom, cheese producer Florian Bergoin of Kersley, provincial Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson and Lhtako Dene Chief Clifford LeBrun pose for a photo following Popham’s announcement that the Province is committing up to $500,000 to develop a regional food hub in Quesnel. Popham made the announcement July 31 at the College of New Caledonia Quesnel Campus. Lindsay Chung photo

RANCH MUSINGS: Quesnel regional food hub and cattle prices

It is not only the weather and unharvested hay that is on rancher’s minds in this season

It is not only the weather and unharvested hay that is on ranchers’ minds in this season.

Prices, of course, and beating the break-even price for product, is the other main focus.

One way of overcoming a market price problem for primary products like beef on the hoof or even cut and wrapped by the side or quarter, is to add value and sell further processed product.

This brings me to the main topic of this article. It starts with a strong compliment to the agriculture sector in the Quesnel area on the half million dollar announcement a few weeks ago by Lana Popham, the minister of agriculture on a regional food hub for the area.

A further note of congratulations should go to the producers and the local government, both City and Mayor Simpson, and the northern regional directors for the Cariboo Regional District.

This kind of support is critical to the success of many agriculture and economic initiatives.

The other kind of support is from citizens and consumers in the local areas willing to support local food production with their hard-earned dollars.

If we want food security, then we must be willing to buy local, even if it costs a bit more. You can bet on freshness and quality and you know the money you spend on product gets recycled in the local economy several times.

READ MORE: Ranching as a life long learning and making a difference

Of course, the provincial government has to be there for financial support for these kinds of collective actions by the local community. Money spent on public facilities and programs should come from the public purse. At least some of it should.

A few years ago, the 100 Mile area, under the leadership of then Mayor Donna Barnett, sought to do something like this. In my opinion, this initiative around an agriculture development centre failed in that producers and local government were not able to muster the collaboration and entrepreneurship to make it happen.

Sustaining this support will be necessary for the Quesnel initiative to be a success. The announcement says the North Cariboo has 1,600 producers. I think this includes a wide area and producers south and north will need to turn to this facility for assistance.

The services to be provided at the food hub are: food and beverage processing facilities, specialized equipment and technology, research and development and business expertise.

With only 23 per cent of the 1,600 producers selling directly to consumers and only nine per cent adding value, this looks like a growth sector. Let’s make it so. The buck in this case stops with entrepreneurs willing to make the effort to create new, local products.

On another positive note, cattle prices are holding, or are slightly up over earlier this year, well above the break-even price for the primary product of most producers in the region which are the thousand-plus cattle producers.

For my part, I am still trying to get on the hayfields that are” blessed” with abundant sub-irrigation water. This is a more positive challenge than the curse of drought, but only a little better.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

Just Posted

Electric vehicle charging station under construction at City Hall

A new BC Hydro electric vehicle charging station is under construction at… Continue reading

Fun had by all at Community Living Month’s annual kickball game

Laughter, smiles and good cheer were carried on the winds

Mt. Timothy Recreation Resort preparing for 2019/20 reopening

“We’ll be opening for skiers and boarders as soon as there is enough base to operate.”

Jr. Rustlers close out season in golden fashion

The Williams Lake Jr. Rustlers under-19 girls club rugby team capped off… Continue reading

New Tsilhqot’in horse program reconnects youth with horses

“A long time ago, everyone on reserves grew up on horses. That is all everyone did was just ride.”

Fashion Fridays: 5 things to remove from your closet

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Scholars say religious vaccine objections can’t be traced to Biblical sources

Vaccinations are a requirement to attend class in Ontario and New Brunswick, while B.C. launched a demand this fall

ELECTION 2019: How would the major parties address Canada’s housing crisis?

Promises include speculation taxes, more affordable housing, and declaring housing a human right

Japanese buyer expands wood pellet contract with B.C.’s Pinnacle

Mitsui and Co. increases contract with Interior energy producer

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

Most Read